8 May 2019
Main opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu emerged victorious in the Istanbul’s mayoral election on April 17 after winning the race by a small margin. The ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party alleged that there were voting irregularities and said that they had presented the related evidence to the election commission. The opposition said the AK Party’s claims were baseless and the ruling party was pressuring the election authority. On Monday, 6 May 2019, the election commission ordered that the vote for Istanbul’s mayor should be redone. A new election is now scheduled for 23 June 2019. Recep Tayyip Erdogan (in picture) said that Binali Yildirim, a former prime minister, will once again be the AK Party’s candidate in the polls.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has also condemned the decision as “neither democratic nor legitimate” but said it will not boycott the rerun.
The CHP said that its candidate Imamoglu will run in the upcoming polls.
Erdogan welcomed the High Election Board’s (YSK) decision. He started his political career as Mayor of Istanbul.
Several smaller opposition parties who fielded their own candidates in the March poll signalled that this time round they could back the ousted mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) so that he could improve on the tight margin of his original victory.
CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu accused the High Election Board (YSK) of betraying voters’ trust and giving in to AKP pressure.
Imamoglu is gaining popularity. He has reached out beyond his base and has settled into the mayoral role with ease. The re-run could widen his win – barring major irregularities against him, which many of his supporter’s fear.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the decision to scrap the vote was “not transparent and not comprehensible”. He added that Turkish voters alone must decide on the mayor’s office, and that basic democratic principles and transparent election rules were paramount. An estimated 2.9 million people of either Turkish citizenship or recent ancestry have found their home in Germany, which has the largest Turkish diaspora community worldwide. But the close links between the two countries are also a source of tension, with German politicians regularly blasting what they see as illiberal moves by Erdogan.